by Morton D. Rosenbaum | September 01, 2005

Holly Cheek"If I’m about to finalize a date, I tell my meeting host exactly what the cancellation clause is."

As senior corporate meeting planner at York, Pa.-based Dentsply International, Holly Cheek and her staff of two handle roughly 50 trade shows and 40 corporate meetings a year for the dental supply company.

What has been your greatest triumph there? I’d say our customer meeting. When I started this job in 2000, we were lucky if we could get 60 attendees. We worked hard on bumping up the location, though, as well as the program, and cultivating awareness. Now it’s quite the talk of the industry. Our customers have been calling us, asking when the meeting is. We’ve got 140 attendees coming this year. That feels good.

What’s the toughest part of planning? Dealing with the last-minute changes that come up. I can be three weeks into planning a meeting over a confirmed set of dates, and all of a sudden the person I’m planning it for says we’re meeting one month later instead, or the meeting that was designed for 50 attendees is changing to 240. Your workload gets doubled, maybe tripled, and it can throw you totally off course.

And how do you get back on? Well, you do have to keep the communication open. If I’m about to finalize a date, I tell my meeting host exactly what the cancellation clause is. And if a change is going to push my team behind a week, I make sure my host is very clear about that.

So what’s the dental insurance like? Oh, it’s fabulous! We don’t pay a dime!